The Aikido Association of America (AAA)
is a nationally-based organization, with an affiliation of over 140 facilities in the United States.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, AAA provides instruction developed under the late chief instructor, Shihan Fumio Toyoda. Shihan Toyoda founded AAA in 1984 and had brought over 40 years of Aikido training experience to AAA and its programs.
The goal of AAA is to lift American Aikido instruction to its highest level, using traditional Japanese and modern methods of teaching Aikido arts and philosophy. To ensure that Aikido instruction in this country will be of the highest quality possible, and that it will continue at this level for future generations, AAA provides a variety of services to it members. These services are described below.
AAA provides national recognition and accreditation of Aikido dojo and their satellites. It provides guidance on establishing and maintaining a dojo, whether university club to professionally-run, full-time dojo. Member dojo are listed free of charge on the internationally-accessed AAA web site.
A full dojo offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has been in existence at least three years. Instruction is by shidoin and fukushidoin. An Aikido club offers an Aikido program that meets consistently at least three times per week, and has existed at least one year. Instruction again is by shidoin and fukushidoin.
Legitimacy of instructors and quality of instruction are always emphasized in AAA. To this end, the organization has requirements for several levels of instructor certification, and provides national recognition of this certification. Instructor training seminars are also offered twice a year (annually on a national level in Chicago, Illinois, and alternately every other year on the East or West Coast).
Instructor levels include shihan (master instructor),shihandai (assistant shihan), sensei (teacher), shidoin (instructor), fukushidoin (assistant instructor), and jyoshu (assistant). Certification level depends on guidelines set forth in AAA policy.
National recognition of status as an Aikido practitioner is one of the services provided to individual members by AAA. Membership entitles the student to an AAA membership card or yudansha booklet, in which records of the students test and certification dates, annual dues payments, and camp and seminar attendance is recorded. Students receive the national AAA newsletter, Aikido World, four times per year.
Dan Rank Tests and Promotions
AAA has established standardized requirements for kyu rank promotion tests for adults and children, and for black belt tests. The organization provides certification for successful kyu-rank promotions through the students' dojo-cho; dan certificates are issued by Aikido World Headquarters.
The local test committees, or Shinsa iin kai, are composed of Aikido instructors ranked sandan (third degree black belt) and above, who are elected from among the collective group of Aikido black belts present at a promotion test. The head of the Shinsa iin kai is shibucho of the area in which the test is taking place, as appointed by the AAA National Teaching Committee, and reports directly to the AAA National Teaching Committee.
Daily, quality instruction at an introductory or ongoing level is one of the foundations of AAA. AAA instructors teach six-week introductory courses designed for those who have never done martial arts before, or who have trained in other martial arts but are looking for a change. At the ongoing level, students can participate in a variety of classes, from introductory to beginner's to mixed rank to advanced. Special classes are offered at AAA Headquarters for yudansha (black belts) and for dedicated students (uchideshi and kenshusei). Classes are designed for children, youths, or adults, and may also be run outside the dojo at, for instance, a community center, workplace, local high school or college. For more information on daily training opportunities in your area, contact the nearest
To further training of Aikidoka (Aikido students) through standardized instruction and intensive, focused training, AAA offers seminars at a variety of levels and on a variety of subjects including beginning and advanced techniques for both empty-hand and traditional weapons, tactical applications, and therapeutic bodywork. Seminar instructors include shihan (master instructor), shihan-dai (assistant shihan), and AAA Teaching Committee members.
National and Regional Training Camps
The AAA Training Camps are large regional gatherings of Aikido practitioners for training, black belt tests, and personal exchange. Held in different parts of the nation, the AAA Camps are major opportunities for practitioners to network and improve themselves through intensive Aikido practice and when possible, through participating in on-site lodging and meals.
Instructor Training and Certification Seminars
Consistent, quality professional instruction is necessary for the long-term growth of Aikido arts. AAA offers an organized method of instruction which is documented in an instructor's manual and promoted through instructors' seminars and the certification of instructor levels. AAA's instructional program, instituted by the late President and Chief Instructor Shihan Toyoda, is promulgated under the guidance of Aikido Doshu K. Ueshiba's teaching and the philosophy of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. AAA offers its National Instructor Seminar every year in Chicago, and alternating years on the West and East coasts.
Professional Instructor Training Program
AAA believes that professional, full-time Aikido instructors are the means by which the art will be successfully transmitted to future generations. For this reason, the Association has instituted a professional instructor training program with unique opportunities for learning teaching methodology as well as strategies for establishing and operating professional schools in today's world.
"Shihan" literally means "teacher of teachers." A shihan has responsibility for the overall planning and development of Aikido instruction. Designation of shihan comes only by appointment from Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Currently, only Toyoda Shihan
holds this title in AAA.
Toyoda Shihan was the founder, president and Chief Instructor of AAA, and was the primary instructor of all AAA Camps and most of the seminars.
Shihan from other organizations, such as Aikido Kobayashi Dojo
which is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, visit the U.S. to share in teaching at various AAA camps or seminars. Currently, guest shihan include Yasuo Kobayashi Shihan, president and chief instructor of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo, and Kengo Hatayama Shihan, of Aikido Sayamadai Dojo.
Shihan-dai, or assistant instructors, are appointed by a shihan as assistant in instruction and directorship.
At this time there are three shihandai in AAI:
Mr. Glen Matsuda of Shishinkan Dojo in Rockland, New York
Mr. James Nakayama of Chushinkan Dojo in Buena Park, California
National Teaching Committee Members
The AAA National Teaching Committee is composed of dedicated, high-ranked Aikido instructors around the country, from the Association, who are committed to assisting in propagating high quality Aikido through their instruction and teaching methodology. Committee members are ranked yondan (fourth-degree black belt) and above, and are chosen for both their instructional and organizational experience. Teaching Committee members also offer instructional seminars in their regional areas as representatives of AAA. They also take an active lead in the Association with promotion test procedures, acting as sources of information on AAA promotion test requirements and leading local test committees, and meet annual requirements to maintain their position on the Teaching Committee.
Current AAA National Teaching Committee Members are:
Mr. James Nakayama, Chushinkan Dojo, Buena Park, California
Mr. Martin Katz, Ryushinkan Dojo, San Diego, California
Mr. John Bieszk, Itsushinkan Dojo, Lombard, Illinois
Ms. Leslie Parks-Casey, Tenshinkan Dojo, Chicago, Illinois
Mr. Bill Bunn, Joshinkan Dojo, Cary, North Carolina
Mr. Glen Matsuda, Shishinkan Dojo, Blauvelt, New York
Mr. Steve Rehrauer, Tenshinkan Dojo, Chicago, Illinois
Ms. Christine Dyer, Chushinkan Dojo, Buena Park, California
Mr. Ken MacBeth, Kenshinkan Dojo, Vista, California
Dr. Frank Gallo, Ludlow, Massachusetts
AAA publishes a periodic newsletter,
to promote communication among dojo and their members and to spread education and philosophical and academic standards in Aikido.
AAA Camp News contains information about AAA National and Regional Camps, the philosophy behind this type of event, reports and photos from previous events, and information on upcoming events.
is a regional newsletter distributed for the Western States.
the editor for more information. An online version is also available.
Kaze is a regional newsletter distributed for the Eastern and Southern States.
the editor for more information. An online version is not yet available.
is the AAA Eastern Regional newsletter available online at the Eastern Region website.
AAA Headquarters, Tenshinkan Dojo, also produces a newsletter, the Dojo Report, featuring local events and stories, as do many of AAA member dojo around the country.
Services offered on the internet include:
National affiliated dojo listing
Calendar, or yearly plan, of training events
Detailed training event information, online flyers and registration forms
AAA Supply Sales
Member dojo administrative paperwork
Information on Aikido, the organization, and the instructors
Videos and Books
AAA is developing a new series of educational and instructional Aikido video tapes. Several tapes from Toyoda Shihan's seminars are currently available. AAA also offers two training manuals, the AAA Student Manual, and the AAA Instructor Manual. Please see AAA Supply.
Items for sale by AAA include T-Shirts, caps, gear bags, weapons bags, red oak and white oak training weapons (bokken, jo, tanto, suburi bokken), manuals, video tapes, and calendars. Visit the
AAA Supply page
for more information, photographs, or order form.
AAA offers demonstrations to educate the general public about Aikido, and about the spirit of shugyo and transcendence of life and death that Aikido embodies. Demonstrations are done at local colleges and universities, Asian arts festivals, street fairs, community centers, work places, shopping malls, high schools and libraries, and where ever else is available.
Cultural Trips and Training Tours
Opportunities to expand one's awareness and experience, and to train in different parts of the country or with different Aikidoka, exist through AAA-sponsored cultural trips and training tours. From outdoor camping/ training retreats in Michigan parks, to visits to Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Japan, AAA sponsors a variety of educational and cultural visits, often in conjunction with Aikido Association International.